"The Lithium Boom Is Coming"

"New vehicle emission standards will likely be a boon for everything from aluminium to new plastics, but the producers of lithium -- a mineral used in batteries that power new generation vehicles -- could be the big winners.

But while the few public companies that mine lithium will likely see surging revenue, they will also face the pressure that comes with all booms -- making supply meet ever-tightening availability. ...

And some energy experts see the irony in lithium batteries replacing carbon-burning gasoline, since they believe exploiting lithium could be just as destructive to the environment as pollution.

Lithium is generally mined from rock, but it can also be found in deposits in brine ponds. It comes mostly from one region -- the Andes Mountains of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, with some deposits in China. Chile's SQM is the world's largest producer, along with US specialty chemical companies Rockwood Holdings Inc and FMC Corp."

Steve James reports for Reuters May 25, 2009.

Source: Reuters, 05/25/2009